Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It ain't over till the Fat Lady PINGS

My original post on what I think happened : http://mojosteve.blogspot.com/2014/03/conspiracy-theories-about-missing-777.html

My followup with potential targets:

Sorry, folks. I just don't buy it. This is simply too easy a fix to a hugely embarrassing problem that no one was able to fix.

Yesterday, based on nothing more concrete than an educated guess made by a UK satellite company using 7 radar pings and a 19th century mathematical model, Malaysia made its problem go away by declaring by fiat that the missing plane crashed in the Indian Ocean off Australia and no one survived.

The airline and the government, both of whom bungled this from the very start, informed families via text and families are getting a whopping five thousand dollars compensation for their dead relatives.

I'm calling shenanigans. Until someone finds DEFINITIVE wreckage that you can say came from that very aircraft, or a body, or you come up with a black box, I'm not convinced. There are way too many unanswered questions. We haven't heard the last of this, no matter how badly and desperately the Malay government and the airline want this to just go away.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Potential Targets for a Weaponized Malaysian Jetliner

Two full weeks after Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) mysteriously vanished en route from Kuala Lampur to Beijing, the conspiracy theories over what happened have gotten wilder and wilder. One pundit said they were hit by a meteor. Another says they were abducted by a UFO. The best ones yet swear the US stole the plane and took it to their base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. (here and here) and that this was part of a botched US attack on China.

YouTube viewers with bugger-all else to do have latched onto Pitbull and Shakira's 2012 song "Get It Started" and claim it may reveal what was going to happen to the plane. The song includes the lyrics: “Now it's off to Malaysia." along with “Two passports, three cities, two countries, one day.”

According to these Internet Geniuses the two passports refer to two men using stolen passports to get on the plane, the three cities being Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Hanoi and the two countries being Malaysia and Vietnam. My God, people. Get real. Put down the bath salts.

The news sites clog my phone almost hourly with report after report of alleged debris being spotted by satellite and then reports that searchers found nothing. The constant backpedaling by Malaysian officials and the lack of anything concrete has even started to give rise to various memes online.

Well, last week I sort of scooped most of the mainstream media by being among the early people to theorize that the still-missing plane didn't just crash, but more rather was deliberately taken by the crew as part of a nefarious plot. I theorized the aircrew, being exceedingly experienced, was in on it. I theorized that the passengers were dealt with via depressurization and hypoxia. I theorized they went below the radar and went for an improvised airfield or forward operating base with a short runway. All of these are being talked about openly by all the alleged experts in the field now.

I also theorized the plane was being repainted and fitted out to be used as a weapon. Others are backing my theory. But of course the next question has to be "What will the target be?"

The fact that nothing has happened yet in the almost 2 weeks since the jet went missing can mean a couple of things. One of them is that they (and by "they/them" I mean the Bad Guys) could be biding their time until all the hubris dies down and the media attention gets focused on the next shiny object that catches their fickle attentions and the general populace relaxes their guard before they act. Right now with half the known world to include Courtney Love looking for this plane it may be more prudent to lie low.

Yeah, you know things are bad when Courtney Love is your celebrity spokes-lunatic.

So many targets to choose from...

The other thing it could mean is that we all figured things out so fast that they simply can't act right now and their intended target is impossible to hit right now. But what could the intended target be?

The obvious choice. Islamoterrorists spew forth rhetoric on a near daily basis about burning Israel to the ground and driving the ashes into the sea. The problem is, the choice is simply too obvious. Israel is always on alert. If they had been around in 1478, they would have actually expected the Spanish Inquisition. They're ready at the trigger and expecting to be attacked by a weaponized MH370. If not shot down by IAF fighters enroute, their Iron Dome missiles are ready to intercept.

We don't have a lot in Kuwait these days compared to years past but being that it's not an obvious high-profile target and the Kuwaitis are very tight with us could make it an attractive target of opportunity. We still stage troops there as they enter and leave the theater of operations. We train there. We're planning to maintain about 13,500 troops there as a contingency.

The aforementioned Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean is a juicy target indeed. The airfield there has been used as a launching point for bomber strikes against the Taliban.The Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia provides Base Operating Services to tenant commands located on the island. The command's mission is "To provide logistic support to operational forces forward deployed to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf AORs in support of national policy objectives."
As of January 2012, the facility supported the following tenant commands:

    Maritime Pre-Positioning Ships Squadron TWO
    Branch Health Clinic
    Naval Computer And Telecommunications Station Far East Detachment Diego Garcia
    Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Detachment
    Naval Media Center Detachment Diego Garcia
    Military Sealift Command Office Diego Garcia
    Mission Support Facility
    Fleet Logistics Center Diego Garcia
    36 MSG Pacific Air Force
    Det 1, 715th AMOG (AMC)
    AFSPC Det 2, 22nd Space Operations Squadron (ARTS & GPS)
    AFSPC Det 2, 18th Space Surveillance Squadron (GEODSS)

Additionally, the USS Emory S. Land (AS-39) is forward deployed to Diego Garcia. She's a submarine tender.

In plain English, you have an airfield, air transport assets, a lot of surveillance assets, and a port facility, including enough ships & pre-positioned equipment to supply a Marine Corps Expeditionary Unit for 30 days in a combat zone. The problem with using a weaponized 777 to attack it? Hundreds and hundreds of miles of open ocean where our military radars could see it coming. Chances are we've sent some fighter coverage there as an insurance policy.

Diego Garcia from the air

Main runway approach to Diego Garcia
B-1 bombers and KC-135 tankers at Diego Garcia
USS Emory S. Land

USS Florida at Diego Garcia, outfitted for working with SEALs. Prime target much?

Dubai has had close ties with the US military for a long time, and is a fairly progressive pro-Western nation. Dubai is the home of Emirates Air, the largest user of Boeing 777's. If you wanted to hit a high profile target this is pretty juicy, and you have about 145 planes you can disguise it as.

Oh, snap. Look at all those 777's from Emirates Air parked in Dubai...

Right next door to Dubai, and as one of the United Arab Emirates, also conveniently served by Emirates Air.
Al Dhafra Air Base is located about an hour outside of Abu Dhabi, and currently hosts the 763d Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. The 763rd conducts in-flight refueling missions throughout Southwest Asia in support of Operation Southern Watch, a coalition force tasked to monitor United Nations Security Council resolutions restricting air and ground operations in Southern Iraq. The Air Force operates KC-10 refueling planes which are involved in sustaining US warplanes covering the southern no-flight zone over Iraq.

Naval Support Activity Bahrain (or NSA Bahrain) is a US Navy base, situated in the Kingdom of Bahrain and is home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet. It is the primary base in the region for the naval and marine activities in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and formerly Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), to include when the latter was changed to Operation New Dawn (OND) until the end of the Iraq War. A former installation of the Royal Navy, it was transferred to the U.S. government in 1971. The commander of Navy Region Southwest Asia is responsible for NSA Bahrain and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. Navy Region Southwest Asia falls under the oversight of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (COMUSNAVCENT). Vice Admiral John W. Miller, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and United States Fifth Fleet.

Camp Lemonnier is a United States Naval Expeditionary Base, situated at Djibouti's Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport and home to the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) of the U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM). The camp is operated by U.S. Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia; CJTF-HOA is the most notable tenant command located at the facility as of 2008. It was established as the primary base in the region for the support of Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA). After negotiations between March and May 2001, the Djiboutian government allowed for the base's use by the U.S., providing for demining, humanitarian, and counter-terrorism efforts, and it now serves as the location from which U.S. and Coalition forces are operating in the Horn of Africa. The access agreement made by officials from the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti with the Djiboutian government allows for use of the camp, as well as a nearby airport and port facilities.amp Lemonnier is operated by Commander, Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, which is responsible for its expansion, upkeep, and logistics support. Tenant units include the U.S. Marine Security Forces which provides the camp's external security, the CJTF-HOA commander and staff, a U.S. Navy Seabee battalion which conducts water-well drilling operations, U.S. Army units which provide additional security, military training, and Civil-military operations support, and several aircraft detachments.\Aircraft detachments include a U.S. Marine heavy-lift helicopter (CH-53) detachment, a U.S. Navy P-3 detachment (technically a part of the US Navy's 6th Fleet - Commander Task Force 67), and the U.S. Air Force's 449th Air Expeditionary Group. USAF detachments include a USAF HC-130 detachment, and, at times, a C-17 Globemaster III detachment.

In my humble opinion, this is strategically the target of choice. Camp Lemonnier is the thorn in Islam's grubby paw. From here launched many of the the drone strikes knocking off your terror scumbags in Yemen and Somalia. There's a staging area for special operations forces there. But then again, terrorists don't think strategically. They tend to think in terms of making a big showy splash and political statement, and that means the juiciest target out there is.... Qatar.

Welcome back, Qatar...

Why Qatar? Al Udeid Air Base west of Doha, also known as Abu Nakhlah Airport, serves as a logistics, command, and basing hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearby Camp As Sayliyah houses significant U.S. military equipment prepositioning and command facilities for the CENTCOM area of operations, as well as a key Theater Rest and Relaxation Program for deployed soldiers. Al Udeid Air Base houses foreign coalition personnel and assets, hosting a forward headquarters of United States Central Command, headquarters of United States Air Forces Central, No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group RAF, and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the USAF. In lieu of hitting the main CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa at MacDill AFB, this is the next best thing, the local head of the snake biting Allah's ass. Or you take out the R&R facility full of relaxing infidel crusaders playing golf and tennis. It's just across the Persian Gulf from the the UAE so once again, Emirates Air is a regular sight in the area.

Like I've said before, I'm not an intelligence analyst. Yes, I'm an Army veteran, but over 20 years removed from active duty. However, I think outside the box and between the lines. I think like I was in Intel; question everything and take nothing for granted. If indeed the missing 777 has been taken to be used later on as a flying bomb, these targets make the most sense in my view and I dearly hope our security at these locations has been stepped up accordingly. Meanwhile, there are 200+ families who want closure.  I'd like nothing more than for this plane to land safely somewhere, and everyone aboard walks off telling a fantastic story of the planet or time zone or dimension they've been in for two weeks. I'm probably wrong. But I said that 2 weeks ago too when I came up with my initial theories too....

It beats Courtney Love, Pitbull, Shakira, and aliens.

Yeah, right.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Conspiracy Theories About Missing 777 Aren't That Far-Fetched

This is the Boeing 777-200ER that disappeared, seen here leaving Paris in an undated photo.

Look, I'm not prone to wild conspiracy theories about contrails or black helicopters or stuff like that. Then again, the notion that the government was reading your emails and hacking your phone and using micro-drones was once a laughed at conspiracy theory too.

There's a jet missing with 239 people on it. Most people think it crashed. Others say terrorists blew it up. I fear it's far far worse.

So what do we know?

Weather was clear. The plane had enough fuel for an eight hour flight, two hours more than needed to get to its destination of Beijing.

The plane vanished around 1:30 am an hour into its flight over an area with spotty radar coverage. One report says the plane turned around. Another report says it was spotted on radar several hundred miles off course. The Malaysian Air Force lost track of the plane over Pulau Perak, a tiny island in the Strait of Malacca.

We have two Iranians who boarded using stolen passports that somehow were missed in Kuala Lampur despite one being stolen last year and one stolen in 2012.

The Boeing 777 is pretty much the safest aircraft flying today.The captain was vastly experienced, with over 18,000 flight hours, and the copilot had over 2800 hours but just recently transitioned to the 777.

The flight's transponder just stopped sending formation as if it was turned off.

Family members of missing passengers are saying they can still see their loved ones' cell phones logged online on the internet and the phones were ringing to voicemail as if the phones were still on and the people were still alive.

Okay...conspiracy time. Flight was headed to Beijing. The Chinese are very hard on their ethnic Muslim Uighur population and the flight originated from Malaysia which is 61% Muslim and neighboring Indonesia is 80% Muslim. A Chinese Muslim terror group has taken credit for the plane going missing but I think that's crap, and the whole Chinese/Uighur connection is a false flag; too obvious.

I don't think it was a mid-air bombing. Where's the wreckage? If it was a big enough bomb to vaporize the entire plane, I do believe surveillance satellites would have noted it. A smaller bomb would have left debris when the wreckage hit the water and may have left time for the crew to send a Mayday distress call. Where are the pings from the emergency beacons in the black boxes?

Yes, people suspected a bomb when that Air France flight from Brazil disappeared en route to Paris in 2009. But that turned out to be a crash after temporary inconsistencies between the airspeed measurements—likely due to the aircraft's pitot tubes being obstructed by ice crystals encountered flying through a storm—caused the autopilot to disconnect, after which the crew reacted incorrectly and ultimately led the aircraft to an aerodynamic stall from which they did not recover.

In the case of Air France 447, it took five days just to find the first floating wreckage. And it was nearly two years before investigators found the bulk of the French plane's wreckage and the majority of the bodies of the 228 people on board, about 12,000 feet below the surface of the ocean.

The Gulf of Thailand, the area where the missing Malaysian plane was last detected, is much shallower, with a maximum depth of only 260 feet and an average depth of about 150 feet. This means a pinging beacon would be much easier to detect by sonars.

Terrorists want their work to be SEEN by as many people as possible, public spectacles, as opposed to something just going missing.The act is designed to cause terror in the affected population, and therefore needs to be public and witnessed.

Personally, I think there was an elaborate inside job to not just hijack the plane but to STEAL it. Bear with me here.

Much to do was originally made of the two Iranian chaps traveling on stolen passports. Everyone is saying they have no terrorist group connections and appeared to be just plain old illegal immigrants seeking asylum in Germany and Denmark respectively, taking advantage of the very open and relaxed asylum laws in those countries. One of them allegedly even had a mother in Germany awaiting him. But what if this was an elaborate ruse? What if your terror cell sent two Iranians on board under the guise of simply being asylum-seekers, two guys who could easily be taking advantage of thebackdoor to Europe through Beijing, two guys with no known previous terror connections so in case they got busted with fake passports there was the plausible deniabililty of no known connections to your terror cell?

Our mysterious illegal Iranians.

Christian Kozel, our Austrian passport owner
Luigi Miraldi, our Italian passport owner.

What if you had the flight crew in cahoots with your terror cell? Both pilots are ostensibly Muslim. Now, I know that that doesn't make them automatically terrorists just by being Muslim but a duck often quacks like a duck. The flight crew could have had tools of the trade squirreled aboard or in brought in their carry-ons. Just today the UK Daily Mail reported that  a convicted terror suspect who was part of a shoe-bomb plot told British officials that he had given bomb materials to a Malaysian terror cell THAT INCLUDED A PILOT.

The two Iranians could have taken over the cabin. How? Well, the plane disappeared at about 1:30 AM, an hour into the flight, when most passengers would likely have been catching some sleep. What if they (and the pilots) donned breathing apparatus and the pilots depressurized the cabin rapidly? This would result in hypoxia and death quickly among the already mostly asleep cabin and the flight attendants could have been dealt with by force if they were cognizant enough to resist before succumbing.

The pilots could then have shut off the plane's transponders, then turned and dropped altitude, taking the aircraft down on the deck and UNDER the already dodgy radar coverage in the area. It's 1:30 am, when it's nice and dark and prying eyes won't be able to see from photo-recon satellites or with bare eyes that a plane just egressed the area. It had fuel enough to reach any number of locations where another cell could be operating a landing field or a terror-friendly nation could have had a military field awaiting their arrival. Could a 777 land on a runway at a smaller airport? Sure, especially if your pilot has over 18,000 flight hours. Could it take off again? Sure...a couple months ago the Boeing DreamLifter, a modified oversized 747, landed by mistake at a smaller airport in Wichita, Kansas and the experienced pilot was able to take off again the next morning. A heavier, older, slower plane than a 777, that was supposed to land at an Air Force base with two 12,000 foot runways and instead landed at a tiny municipal airport with a 6100 foot runway and furthermore TOOK OFF AGAIN fully loaded. In crappy weather, no less.

So, who's to say this 777 didn't hightail it at night under the radar to an undisclosed hideout away from prying surveillance satellites where it is being REPAINTED in the colors of another airline that flies the 777? Nearly 1100 Boeing 777's of various configurations have been built, and nine major airlines as well as a few other smaller airlines operate the craft. You could load this thing with TONS of explosives or biotoxins or (insert scary music here) Iranian-supplied NUKES. Wait a few weeks or months to let the commotion die down. Install a transponder with codes from a DIFFERENT aircraft. Then you fly it to....anywhere? Chaos ensues.

And to make it even scarier, what if the passengers were merely incapacitated and taken hostage? Would a terror cell install TV cameras to show the passengers on a live YouTube stream as they, strapped in their seats, are flown to their deaths?

Of course I'm just speculating. I'm not a counter-terror expert. I'm not an airline expert. I'm just a very suspicious former Army cop who can see way outside the box. My theories could already be unraveling as you read this because the Chinese (3 days after the fact) claim to have spotted three big chunks of floating debris via satellite and an oil rig worker off Vietnam swears he saw the plane crash that night.

I'm probably wrong. I better be wrong. But you have to admit, it's not that far-fetched really.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Super Top Secret But Obvious Punishment for Disprespecting the Flag

Ah, yes. As you'll recall in my last article, once the shit hits the fan, it accumulates and rolls downhill when you're caught doing Dumb Things in uniform and it brings discredit upon the military.

Yeah, troops are basically government property but you do retain your 1st Amendment rights to free speech, providing that free speech doesn't bring the aforementioned discredit, to the flag, or the military, or the nation.

Well the punishment for PFC Tariqka Sheffey's ducking out of duty to hide in her car taking Instagram selfies and avoiding saluting the flag at the end of the duty day has been meted out.  Leaders at Fort Carson said all options, including court-martial, were on the table. However, the post Public Affairs Office now says the situation was handled by a unit commander, and won’t specify what action was take, or which level of command acted. They're acting like her punishment is some giant secret. Any dillweed with more than 8 weeks in uniform can read between those lines and tell you that her company commander issued an Article 15 non-judicial punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I find it hilarious that the Army actually issued a statement saying that they were basically keeping the punishment a secret.

Things look sad in Sheffey Nation these days.
Prior to the Article 15, the commander will notify the accused of the commander's intention to impose punishment, the nature of the misconduct alleged, supporting evidence and a statement of the accused's rights under the UCMJ. All service members, except those embarked or attached to a vessel currently away from its homeport, have a right to refuse non-judicial punishment and request a court-martial. If the accused does not accept the Article 15, the  hearing is terminated and the commander must make the decision of whether to process the service member for court-martial. If the accused accepts the Article 15, he or she, plus a representative if desired, will attend the hearing conducted by the commander. The accused may present evidence and witnesses to the commander. The commander must consider any information offered during the hearing, and must be personally convinced that the service member committed misconduct before imposing punishment.

Maximum penalties for an enlisted troop depend on the rank  of the officer imposing punishment. There are three types of non-judicial punishment commonly imposed.

Summary Article 15: commanders (O-3 and below)  may impose:
  • Restriction to specific limits (normally work, barracks, place of worship, mess hall, and medical facilities) for not more than 14 days
  • Extra duties, including fatigue or other duties, for not more than 14 days
  • Restriction with extra duties for not more than 14 days

Company Grade (O-3 or below) commanders may impose the above plus:
  • Correctional Custody for not more than 7 days (only if accused is grades E-3 & below)
  • Forfeiture of 7 days base pay
  • Reduction by one grade, if  E-4 and below
  • Confinement on diminished rations or bread and water for not more than 3 days (USN/USMC E-3 and below only, and only when embarked on a vessel)
  •  Admonition or reprimand, either written or verbal

Field Grade (O-4 to O-6) may impose:
  •  Restriction for not more than 60 days
  •  Extra duties for not more than 45 days
  •  Restriction with extra duties for not more than 45 days
  •  Correctional Custody for not more than 30 days (if grade E-3 and below)
  •  Forfeiture of ½ of base pay for two months
  •  Reduction by one grade if (USA/USAF E-6 or E-5; USMC E-5 or below; USN E-6 or below); or reduction to E-1 (USA/USAF E-4 to E-2)
  •  Confinement on diminished rations or bread and water for not more than 3 days (USN/USMC E-3 and below only, and only when embarked on a vessel)
  •  Admonition or reprimand, either written or verbal
The punishments listed above may be combined with certain limitations listed in the Manual for Courts-Martial, Part 5, Section 5(d). For example, extra duties and restriction and forfeiture of pay and reduction in grade could be imposed. Remember, it rolls downhill and the accused is at the bottom of it.

If the accused considers the punishment to be unjust or to be disproportionate to the misconduct committed, he or she may appeal the Article 15 to a higher authority. This is usually the next officer in the chain of command. Upon considering the appeal, the higher authority may set aside the Article 15, decrease the severity of the punishment, or may deny the appeal. They may not increase the severity of the punishment.

Accused are permitted to refuse non-judicial punishment in favor of a court-martial; this might be done in cases where they do not feel their Commanding Officer will give them a fair hearing. But this option exposes them to a possible criminal court conviction...and jail time.

So since it appears her Company Commander, Captain Lee, issued the punishment and not the Batallion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Barton, she likely got a Company Grade Article 15. I doubt she got correctional custody, as she's a single mom and the Army would look bad if they jailed her for 7 days and left her kid to the tender mercies of some form of social services. She likely got busted a pay grade back to E-2 (and will likely get that lost rank back in six months if she keeps her nose clean), and quite possibly lost 7 days pay. Extra duty? Yeah, probably, unless they cut her slack for child care. I'm pretty sure she got that letter of reprimand in her personnel jacket too. All in all sounds pretty fair, commensurate with her infraction.

Over in Wisconsin, Specialist Harrison, she of the funeral detail shenanigans, has been removed from funeral duty indefinitely pending outcome of the investigation into her hijinks. She'll likely receive a Company Grade Article 15 too. Another soldier in the Wisconsin National Guard, Sergeant Luis Jimenez,  has also been suspended from funeral honors duties because of comments he made on Facebook after Harrison was criticized. Smart move, dude. Publicly stick up for someone getting death threats for blatant disrespect of war dead.

“[Harrison] isn’t disrespecting anyone … It’s actually a selfless commitment she has made. These [military funeral] practice sessions are very long. It’s good to let loose a little when your job constantly asked you to be serious,” Jimenez wrote in a Facebook post, which has since been removed. Genius level stuff there, Sarge. Like I've said before, letting off steam is cool; doing it in uniform and on top of a casket draped in the flag, empty or not, and posting that a family is going to get less than your best because you're cold? That ain't cool. Good luck making E-6 now, pal.

A photo composite of a photo of Sgt. Luis Jimenez over a funeral service for a fallen army soldier

And Staff Sergeant Cherish Byers, our Air Force cop who took a picture three years ago tongue kissing the POW/MIA? Well, her incident is still being looked at by the Air Force in its own leisurely pace to determine whether or not any punishment is warranted, as the picture was taken three years ago but was only just recently discovered. However, a statement was issued by none other than the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. Yeah, the top enlisted troop in the entire Air Force. Talk about rolling downhill...

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody said Friday in a statement, "I want to make it clear that this is not a reflection of airmen who wear this uniform; it is a case of poor judgment of one airman ... to say we are disappointed would be an understatement. We are gathering all the details and will take appropriate action at the appropriate level. Our airmen fully understand the significance of the POW/MIA flag and the sacrifice of the men and women it honors.".

CMSAF Cody is disappointed in you.

Not everyone was against her though. One blog site says we should just forgive her & basically let bygones be bygones. Why? Because she's hot, in the author's opinion, and that must mean we have to forgive her. And the author, one Noah Gulliver, had the audacity to dig up pics of Byers out of uniform to prove her hotness so we can forgive her. We also need to forgive her because she's military, and if she was a civilian and did the tongue thing it would have been worse. No it wouldn't , dumbass; you almost overlook a civilian who doesn't know any better. Military people know better. Or I would expect they would. And lastly, you have to forgive her because she's black. Seriously, this asshole played the race card and said if she was a blonde white chick we'd have already forgiven her. Please...go leave some choice comments on the article. Because he seems to have forgotten Lyndsey Stone, the white chick eventually fired from her job for stupidly posting a photo on her Facebook page from a trip she took with her employer – on her employer’s dime – being a disrespectful little snapperhead. Your racism claims are pure BS, chumley.

My guess is she'll get a letter of reprimand and not an Article 15, given her public remorse over the incident and the fact it's three years in the past. In the interim three years, she's been promoted, and received awards for Airman of the Month and Airman of the Quarter. So it's obvious that by & large she's not a bad troop, but she mad a mistake a few years back that's caught up to her.I wouldn't count on seeing E-6 any time soon though.

The bottom line is this: think before you post. Don't dishonor your uniform, your service, or our flag.

Yeah, I bet the Air Force is gonna be looking into this. Another disrespectful moron.
The Army is taking this whole social media thing quite seriously now.
This is a good military selfie in uniform.
This, however, is a dumbass uniform selfie.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Social Media & The Military: Don't Disrespect the Flag or Your Uniform

Since time began, there's been a saying in the military of "Privates will be Privates", which generally meant that despite being soldiers and ostensibly mature, responsible, disciplined, productive citizens they are also mostly kids barely out of high school and still prone to doing Dumb Things. This usually gets straightened out by the time one makes E-4 but not always.

(insert flashback music & sound effects here)

I'm a bit of an anachronism these days. I went to Basic Training in January of 1988, over a quarter of a century ago. A lot has changed since then, but a lot has stayed the same.What's changed? Well, the base I went to for Basic, Fort McClellan in Alabama is closed. The unit I was in for Basic, the 40th Military Police Battalion, closed down in December 1990 and was re-established in 2009 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas performing Internment and Resettlement duties. The base I was stationed at in Germany closed down in 1992, as did the unit I was in, the 285th Military Police Company, part of 42d MP Group. The 42d was resurrected in 2004 as the 42d MP Brigade at Joint Base Lewis/McChord in Washington. My second unit, the US Army Correctional Brigade, disbanded in 1992, the buildings were burned to the ground, and our section of Fort Riley, Kansas, known as Camp Funston, was pretty much razed and leveled. My Military Occupational Specialty of Military Police was renumbered from 95B to 31B. The uniforms have all changed completely. The M-60 machine gun is now the M-240. The M-16 rifle is now the M-4 carbine. You get the gist. More on this later.

Also: the Internet and cell phones were more or less science fiction. I mean, the mobile phone was a new and expensive gadget that only Wall Street tycoons and the idle rich had access to, and by & large desktop computers were monstrosities. Nowadays, I use my iPhone smaller than a deck of cards to access the globe instantaneously.

Yeah, phones used to be huge. Or came in a bag. Or both.

What's stayed the same? Kids still like to do Dumb Things.

(fast forward to present day)

Now we have the dangerous combination of social media, instant global access, portability, and tech-savvy young troops who still do Dumb Things. Chief among these Dumb Things seems to be the prevalence of posting pictures of themselves in uniform doing Dumb Things. These kids don't seem to realize that the Internet is a bit like Vegas; what goes there stays there but unlike Vegas, your secrets are broadcast to the universe.

Case in point: Army National Guard Specialist Terry Harrison of the Madison, Wisconsin-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment. Specialist Harrison posted a picture on her Instagram account of herself and soldiers from several other units cavorting and posing around an empty flag-draped casket in Arkansas. This is not proper behavior for a funeral detail, last time I checked. The caption reads, "We put the FUN in funeral -- your fearless honor guard from various states." Not cool.

I know that it's stressful being on a funeral detail but for the families it's just a bit more stressful. Blowing off some steam is one thing but doing it in a blatantly disrespectful manner is beyond the pale. If it was your loved one in that box, would you want the solemn respect they're due? Posting a picture saying a family is going to get a jacked up flag because it's cold outside? Most unprofessional. What if their loved one came back in a box marked "Remains Unviewable" meaning a closed-casket funeral and that flag is all they'll have left because they never saw their loved one in final repose? Because you were cold, you'll shirk your duty and give a grieving family less than your best?

Another picture that caused a ruckus was that of a woman in Air Force fatigues miming a tongue kiss with the iconic silhouette of the POW/MIA flag. Once the picture was discovered, shared, and went viral, people demanded to know who she was.  Turns out it that the airman in the photo is Staff Sergeant Cherish Byers. She is with the 92nd Security Forces Squadron stationed at Fairchild AFB near Spokane, Washington. Byers, now an E-5, was a Senior Airman (E-4) when the photo was taken. Byers hasn't publicly responded to emails requesting comment; however, her Facebook contained the following post before her account was removed: “This pic is 3 years old. I was a young airman who didn’t care (not uncommon). I was young and dumb. There are much bigger issues to be worried about than a 3 year old pic that was leaked. So get off of Facebook, and go to take care of your children, because one day it may be them in my shoes, getting called out of their name for a mistake that took a few second to make but a lifetime to make up for.”

Well, at least there's some remorse here and acknowledgement that it was a stupid act performed by a younger troop.Especially if she ever wants to make E-6.

However, remorse seems far from the mind of Tariqka Sheffey. Who's that, you ask? Well, Private First Class (E-3) Sheffey is a 24-year old single mom assigned to the 59th Quartermaster Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. Her pictures have gone viral as well, pictures of her reclined in her car, with her captions admitting she's shirking her duties and avoiding having to salute the flag as it is lowered at the end of the duty day.

This one really chapped the collective ass of America, with a huge backlash across social media. The general consensus was that a soldier who doesn't have enough respect to salute the flag certainly won't fight for it. Sheffey later posted a video of herself on Tuesday expressing regret but did not offer an apology for her actions. “I seriously just want to say thank you to everybody who stood up to me today, like seriously. That shit to me was not that serious. I am not a disrespectful soldier and I really appreciate you all,” she said.

As for me, I feel it was disrespectful. And furthermore, it's indicative of a young soldier with a piss-poor attitude and could very well be a case of a bad command climate.

You see, as an E-3 she's likely been in the Army about a year. At only 12 months in she should still be under the watchful and diligent guiding eye of her squad leader, likely an E-6 Staff Sergeant, instead of hanging out in her car "all day" as she claims. This means her squad leader is failing her and I can guarantee that her squad leader is currently being made painfully aware of this permissive shortcoming. How do I know this? Because shit rolls downhill.

As soon as this went viral and people found out her unit, word of it had to have gone up the chain of command. This means someone from Public Affairs will have caught wind and had to tell the Commanding General of Fort Carson. That would be Major General Paul J. LaCamera, who also commands the 4th Infantry Division. I'm sure his next call was to the Division (and post) Command Sergeant Major, CSM David M. Clark since this involved an enlisted soldier in a unit attached to the Division. CSM Clark is the highest enlisted person on Carson. I'm sure he grabbed his phone and rung up the CSM for 43d Sustainment Brigade, CSM Anthony Traylor, who called CSM Shannon Caviness over at the 68th Combat Service Support Battalion, who in turn rang up the First Sergeant of the 59th Quartermaster Company, 1SG Eric Cantrell. Top Cantrell would, of course, be none-too-happy that the Battalion Command Sergeant Major called & wanted to see him, and would have summoned Sheffey, her squad leader, and her platoon sergeant to his office on the double. My guess is that after a colorful verbal onslaught by Top, the four of them would be meeting with the Battalion, Brigade, and Division Sar'Majors up at Division Headquarters later that afternoon to explain in great detail why this E-3 is on the Internet bragging about not rendering proper military courtesy to the flag at 1700 and why she is further boasting about hanging out in her car instead of performing her duties during the workday. This, friends, is how shit rolls downhill.

What this young private thought was just a cute and funny post on Instagram to impress her friends has now gotten her in deep kimchi. The very LEAST she can hope for is non-judicial punishment via an Article 15 under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If it goes to court martial it gets much much worse. But the fun doesn't end here, folks. Her squad leader is screwed now and will get a ding on his/her NCOER (an eval report for Sergeants) for failure to provide proper leadership and supervision to this young troop and that could be a problem when trying to make E-7. The platoon sergeant could get a ding that keeps him/her from making E-8. When it comes time for the Company Commander of the 59th, Captain Karl Lee, to get his Officer Evaluation Report from his Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Stephanie Barton , this little incident will likely keep him from making Major. Barton may escape unscathed when they go looking for prospective bird Colonels to promote but in today's shrinking Army you need to walk on water to keep your career on track. The slightest failing or perceived failing could unravel you quickly.

PFC Sheffey had other fun pics online too. Including her mug shot, which some gossip site dug up. It's the Internet, gang...it's all out there.

I used to detest seeing people on base literally running to get indoors at two minutes to five in the afternoon just to avoid saluting the flag. Is it that big a deal to come to attention for the bugle call of Retreat and render a hand salute during To The Colors? It's been a LONG time since I had to worry about this, but it's still found in AR 600-25 Salutes,Honors, and Visits of Courtesy and in FM 7-21.13 The Soldier's Guide, Chapter 4: Customs, Courtesies, and Traditions.

If you absolutely, positively HAVE to post pictures of yourself in the midst of debauchery, chicanery, or just plain grab-ass shenanigans, DO NOT do it in uniform and make sure that whatever you do brings no discredit to the military or our flag. You see, people have died for that flag and that uniform. To me it is simply unconscionable to disgrace the uniform. As a Military Policeman, it was drilled into me from the earliest minutes of Basic Training that you took pride in your uniform and your appearance and that your conduct while wearing it should be above reproach. We were told that in most cases we were the first people you see upon entering the base and that people would judge the entire Army by our conduct and appearance; if we looked like crap and acted like crap, then to the whole Army was crap. Therefore I took great pains to always look sharp and act professional in uniform. I almost NEVER ran errands in my uniform off-duty except maybe to get a haircut. Off duty the uniform came off and then I could relax a bit. I didn't drink in uniform except for the Military Police Anniversary Ball. I used to see this grizzled old Sergeant Major getting sloppy drunk every night in his uniform and to me it showed bad leadership and bad judgement for an E-9 to be seen like that. I lost my respect for the man and was not surprised at all when I found out he got busted for a DUI that ended his career.

Sure, off duty in civvies I'd cut up, act the fool, and have a good time, but I refused to bring discredit to the uniform by wearing it like people treat pajama pants and a hoodie. I went to a wedding once in my dress uniform, and my wedding date pissed me off by dragging me to the mall afterwards to show me off in my uniform rather than give me ten minutes to change so I wouldn't be seen wandering the mall on a Saturday afternoon in my Class-A's. Worse still, she kicked off her heels and carried them, walking through the mall barefoot while holding my arm. I was mortified and we went our separate ways soon after. It's a uniform, not a costume.

These are genuinely funny. They aren't in poor taste and bring no discredit upon the military.
This however does. Dude, you ain't on Crenshaw with your West Side homies. Knock that shit off.

Taking pictures of yourself goofing off is a long-standing tradition among the troops. But if it's genuine humor that brings no discredit, well, hell, we all like a good laugh. But don't sully the uniform of your service throwing gang signs, looking like Joe Shit the Ragbag, or doing illegal things. You'll be found out, and you'll be standing there at the bottom of that hill with your mouth wide open as that giant open-faced shit sandwich rolls down to splatter across your face.

And how did I get all the info on Sheffey's chain of command? It's the Internet. You can find anything.